By Luke Voogt
When Kylie Warne joined the Geelong Chamber of Commerce – six months pregnant – she never imagined she would become its longest serving president.
“Admittedly, I probably could have timed it better,” she said.
“But I could see how much potential the chamber had to embrace and represent younger generations, small businesses and women entrepreneurs.”
Ms Warne joined the chamber as a director in 2008 and became its president in 2013.
She will become the longest serving president in the chamber’s 163-year history, surpassing Herbert Henry Washington (1929-1933), after recently starting her fifth term.
“I’m still just as passionate about the chamber’s work today as I was back then,” she said.
The 44-year-old Bannockburn resident said her business endeavours had fascinated her two sons and they had already followed her example.
“They’ve even appeared as extras in one of our TV commercials, and I love that my eight-year-old has many ideas for start-up businesses.”
They, in turn, inspired her to contribute to the community, she said.
“I want our future generations to live in a socially, economically and environmentally prosperous region.”
Ms Warne, the daughter of an immigrant and 35-year Ford veteran, has witnessed Geelong’s landscape business change and she said she wanted to help the city adapt.
“Geelong has given my family so much and it’s impossible not to want to give back,” she said.
“The chamber’s work is shared by a really talented and hard-working team. To be the longest serving president simply amplifies the privilege of leading the chamber.”
Ms Warne said balancing parenting and business was demanding but didn’t consider challenges she had faced in business “to be any different from men”.
“Entrepreneurs, especially those with younger children, have to manage their time well, and navigate all the other challenges that come with running a business.”